A Sugary Concoction of Mindless Hagiography:
What is New about Memorials of the Faithful

By Moojan Momen

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #132
Center for Bahá'í­ Studies: Acuto, Italy
July 2–5, 2015
(see list of papers from #132)


    This paper considers the literary genre and literary history behind Memorials of the Faithful (Tadhkiratu'l-Vafa) as well as examining what is new about the book. The paper will first consider the genre of hagiography in Christianity and Judaism. It will then look at the specific literary precedent set by Faridu'd-Din's Tadhkiratu'l-Awliya (Memorials of the Saints), which is the oldest work of this genre in Persian. Finally it looks at the contents of 'Abdu'l-Baha's book, giving some examples of the manner in which 'Abdu'l-Baha highlights particular virtues that related to the needs of the Faith. Finally the paper will examine the manner in which `Abdu'l-Baha took this traditional literary format and used it in an innovative manner to make a profound statement about a fundamental principle of the World Order of Baha'u'llah.

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